Manpower agencies are cheering as Qatar looks set to pass a historic new law protecting maids’ rights.
There is currently no law regulating domestic help in Qatar. Maids are not required to sign contracts with their employers and cannot file complaints against their employers with the Ministry of Labor.
But the new law provides a detailed description of what is expected of maids here, and if enforced, will definitely tilts in the employee’s favor.
According to the draft, as reported by the Peninsula, maids:
- Must sign a contract with her employer, with the format and rules to be issued by the Labor Minister
- Are entitled to free housing and food as well as breaks during an eight-hour workday
- Are free to practice their religion
- Must receive proper medical care when sick and cannot be forced to work during illness
- Are entitled to three weeks of annual leave
- Can quit at any time
- Must receive two weeks of basic pay as end-of-service benefits for each year worked for employer
- Are not responsible for paying for their visas or medical testing
- Must be at least 18 years old to work as a domestic helper
- Must be employed through a licensed manpower agency
- Cannot be asked to do any work other than those specified in her contract, or work that takes a heavy physical toil or is “below a woman’s dignity”
- Are entitled to have their sponsor meet all expenses in the event of their death, including transporting the body home. If the family members of a deceased maid suspect foul play and make accusations against the sponsor, a court case could be filed without any fee and the case would be heard on a fast-track basis
Recruitment agencies expressed satisfaction with the draft law, which they say would also protect their rights.
But some remain skeptical about enforceability of the law, and say it is unrealistic for a maid to work an eight-hour day.
“A maid gets up early in the morning and her work goes on until late in the night, so it is very difficult to have an eight-hour working routine for her,” one agency official told the Peninsula.